[ltp] Thinkpad W520, nouveau and external monitors

Marco Vittorini Orgeas linux-thinkpad@linux-thinkpad.org
Fri, 17 Feb 2012 13:20:02 +0100

Hi list,

I am in the middle of a pre-purchasing evaluation of some thinkpad 
models, in particular I am looking at w520 line and trying to understand 
if I will be able to easily attach an external monitor to the VGA output 
and configure it with the xrandr extension, all done using the free 
nouveau driver.

Is there somebody who owns such a system and can report if such a 
configuration can be easily achieved?
Note: I don't mind if the laptop monitor is off when I attached  the 
external one: that's because sometimes I am in a place where I can 
access some big LCD monitors and I'd like to work on those by connecting 
them to the laptop.

I've done a bit  of research on the matter and it seems that w520 models 
are equipped with either a NVIDIA 1000m or 2000M coupled with an on-chip 
integrated intel GPU.
The intel GPU is used to save on power consumption and seems to be 
connected *only* to the laptop LCD, so to have the VGA working the 
nvidia card has to be used instead (on windows this can be done 
automatically with the optimus nvidia extension but on linux this is not 
yet supported and it should be pre-selected in BIOS on boot which mode 
to use) see 
http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Installing_Debian_Wheezy_on_a_ThinkPad_W520 and 

In conclusion, nouveau + nvidia 1000m/2000m + external VGA monitor: is 
this possible ?

Thank you in advance,